At a venue in one of the shadier sections of Los Angeles, Sony and Naughty Dog put on a display of the competitive multiplayer modes in the upcoming Uncharted 3. While I watched out the window with one eye to ensure no one was stealing anyone' car, I focused the other eye on a variety of flatscreen TVs where I was able to play team deathmatch.

Uncharted 3's multiplayer will, at its core, resemble that of its immediate predecessor, but Naughty Dog promises a lot of tweaks and improvements. "Lessons learned" from fan commentary and playtesting, they say. First and foremost, there'll be several new game modes in Uncharted 3's multiplayer, although Naughty Dog was pretty careful not to disclose what most of those would be. In addition to team deathmatch, the game will also have three-team deathmatch (that is, 2 v 2 v 2), and free for all, which is a mode the forums have been clamoring for. The game will also have a variety of co-op modes, although the specifics aren't available just yet.

Team deathmatch itself has been tweaked: when I played, I experienced the new "power play" feature that gives teams getting their asses kicked a chance to catch up, while the team in the lead gets a chance to expand on its cash winnings--essentially a double-or-nothing feature. Also new are the timed and sudden-death overtime features, which trigger when a match is very close when time expires, giving teams a chance to swing the balance in their favor. Although I didn't experience it at the event, Naughty Dog promises that you'll be able to jump into games in progress, rather than requiring everybody to be there at the beginning, and that the multiplayer will be playable locally on splitscreen, in addition to via PSN.

Customization options have been greatly expanded, as well: players can customize the costumes and colors of all the characters, from generic villains to protagonist Nathan Drake himself. Weapons, too, can be changed piecemeal, from grips and stocks to design and color. Also customizable are the character loadouts, so you're not stuck with a standard arsenal when you start a level anymore. As in Uncharted 2, you earn cash for kills and wins, but in Uncharted 3 you can actually spend that cash in-game to unlock "boosters" (temporary powerups) and buy new character customizations and even weapons. Same thing with "medals" (earned for accomplishments in-game); these, too, can now be parleyed into power-ups, giving a practical benefit to metagaming achievements.

In all, Uncharted 3's multiplayer looks like it's learned a lot from its forebears and like it should be an excellent co-operative experience, even in the deathmatch modes. The "buddy system" has been expanded, allowing you to easily find and join buddies in game, and to work with them to achieve joint rewards and boosters, and even accomplish joint missions in a multiplayer match. We're excited to see the co-operative modes when more information is released--but now, if you'll excuse me, I think I hear a car alarm...